Sunday, February 5, 2012

The following is from a narrative started in 2010.

Oliver Summerlin, 1830 - 1911

Oliver Summerlin was born 1 June 1830, to Thomas and Annie Summerlin in the Summerlin Crossroads area of Duplin County.

We first see Oliver Summerlin in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census, age 20, in the household of  William Jackson in the north division of Duplin County.  He was working as a farm laborer at the time.  On 28 Jan 1853, he married Elizabeth Britt (1829-bef. March 1872).  He started a blacksmith shop in Mount Olive in 1858.  Their son, Claudius “Claude” Summerlin was born 6 Sept 1859.

"In 1858, Mr. Summerlin came to Mount Olive and started a blacksmith shop."
(Claude Moore, The Summerlin Buggy Factory, )

In the 1860 decennial census, Oliver is working as a “carriage repairer”, has real estate worth $510 and personal property worth $400.  Other members of the household are Elizabeth, age 30; Baby [Claude], age 8 months.  A 16-year-old boy named Elias Holmes and a 13-yr-old girl named Mary C. Newel are also living with the Summerlins.  I have not been able to identify them as relatives or neighbors.  Presumably they are household help.  Elias is listed as having gone to school during the previous year.  They are living in the Buck Swamp District of Wayne Co. NC.  Buck swamp is NW of Goldsboro.

Elias may be the Elias H. Holmes who enlisted in the Co C, 2nd Infatry Regiment, North Carolina on 17 Jun 1861.  He is listed as being 19, but could have lied about his age.  Several other men from the area enlisted at the same time.  If so, he died in Castle Thunder Prison in Richmond on 2 Sep 1864.  Since he does not seem to be related, I do not plan to pursue this line of research.

In April, 1861, the Civil War begins when Southern troops fire on Ft. Sumter in SC.  NC secedes on May 20, 1861.  Much of Eastern NC is occupied by Northern troops throughout the war.

Oliver is now 30, and does not immediately join the Confederate Army.  He does not join until it is too late, in Oct 1864.  By this time Sherman has taken Atlanta and will soon begin his March to the Sea.  Men were joining or being conscripted at this time in the hopes they will be allowed to defend their home counties.

In North Carolina the Civil War was over almost as soon as it began. By August 29, 1861, Fort Hatteras on the North Carolina coast had surrendered to Federal forces, and from this beachhead, Gen. Ambrose Burnside was able to establish a base of operations from which to control most of eastern North Carolina by late Spring 1862. Some towns changed hands several times, forcing many residents to flee inland to places such as Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, and Pittsboro to escape the fighting. North Carolina's soldiers, in the meantime, were seeing action primarily in Virginia. Many blamed the Confederate government for deploying North Carolina's troops to defend other states and for providing an inadequate force to drive Federal troops out of eastern North Carolina.  (, accessed 12/11/2010)

On October 18, 1864, Oliver was formally enlisted in the Confederate Army. He and several other men from Wayne County joined Company E of the 20th NC Infantry at Camp Holmes in Raleigh.  An explanation appears in History of Company E , 20th North Carolina Infantry (1905).  He was with the company when they surrendered to Grant at Appomatox Court House (VA).
Reunion of the 20th Regiment of the North Carolina State Troops of Duplin County.  Oliver is kneeling on the far right. [date?]


Oliver Summerlin married Elizabeth Britt on 28 Jan 1853 in Duplin County.  She was born in 1829.  Their first child, Claudius (Claude), was born 6 Sep 1859 in Wayne County.  Mary Livonia was born 6 Sep 1861, also in Wayne County.  The next child, Alice E. was born 7 Nov 1866, after the end of the Civil War.  Another daughter, Margaret, was born in 1869.  Sometime between the 1 Jun 1870 (date of official census) and 1872, Elizabeth died.  Margaret probably also died - she is not listed in the 1880 Census.
Oliver and his family are living in Brogden Township, near Mount Olive in 1870.

Oliver married Frances ("Fannie") Elizabeth Albritton on 7 Mar 1872 in Wayne County.  She was the daughter of Matthew and Mary A. Albritton, and was born 25 Aug 1842 (age 30 at the time of marriage).  They have five children:  Anna "Annie", b 18 Aug 1873; Matthew Oliver, b 16 Apr 1876; Benjamin "Ben" Albritton, b. 24 Apr 1878; George Edgar (my ancestor) b. 9 Jul 1882; and Thomas Bryan, b. 1 Dec 1885.

[In the 1900 census, Fannie says that she is "mother of 6 children" and 5 are living.  They must have lost a child.]

That's it for today!

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